Tips for Online Accessibility

Published: August 23rd, 2016

Category: Blog

Intro

You have probably heard about ensuring accessibility in online courses and may think of “closed captioning”.  However, accessibility includes many more aspects, especially in your PowerPoint presentations and documents.
If you build your course with accessibility in mind, the learning experience for all of your students will be improved and the required effort for any further accessibility adjustments will be minimized.

Headings

One of the main things you can use to help make your content more accessible is to use headings. Headings can be applied in most programs you use to make your content.

Using headings will improve your content layout for all of the users. They will be able to identify sections of content and know when items are subsections of content. Headings are also helpful to screen reader users. The use of headings affords the screen reader user extra navigation around the page. If you only use bold text to identify a new section, the screen reader user is presented with a wall of words.

Fonts

Another thing to consider is the type and size of your fonts. Typically for a presentation you want to use a “serif”, the fonts with the tails or a “sans serif”, the fonts without the tails font-type. This is not to say that you cannot use a fancy or decorative font, however it is recommended that you save these for titles rather than for content. The programs you use to build your course content will have different default fonts. Most of the time the default will be “a serif” or “sans serif” font.

serif verus sans serif
To ensure readability, you want to consider your font size and paragraph spacing. Typically you can leave the default font and size in whichever program you are using. For consistency, you may want to change the font when you are using multiple programs with different default fonts.

Colors

The colors you choose will affect user’s ability to read the content provided. If the contrast between colors is low, users will have a difficult time distinguishing words. This applies to all users, but will significantly affect users with low vision or who are colorblind. You can check color contrast through WebAim’s color contrast checker.

Alt Text

You will also want to add alternative text (alt text). If the image cannot be viewed due to loading issues, then the alternative text will display on the screen. If the user is accessing your materials with a screen reader, then the alternative text will be read to the user.
In programs such as Word and PowerPoint, you will want to add a Title and Description. The title is a short description that will be read to screen reader users. This is beneficial for complicated images that require a long description. After reading the title text the user will have the option to read the full description. If there is no title, the description text will be read.

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